When I was a little girl, maybe 8 or 9, I longed to be unique. The image that reflected back to me when I got ready for school each morning was achingly ordinary: brown hair, brown eyes, a few freckles. Blah, blah, blah. I was envious of a friend getting braces or glasses, because it was going to set her apart.
My favorite biographies in the school library were of Beethoven and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. When I got one of my many ear infections, I had romantic fantasies of going deaf and started learning sign language from our World Book Encyclopedias. When I was in one of my “I wish I could run away” phases, I dreamed of a quiet, solitary life behind convent walls.
This feeling that I blended into the background extended to how I thought others saw me. That is, they didn’t. At all. I assumed that I was highly forgettable. I assumed that after someone met me, they’d not remember me the next time they saw me.
Once I discovered music in sixth grade, my identity started to form around playing in band and singing in choir. My confidence in my talent and smarts was strengthened. But I still struggled with feelings of worth and significance.
Twenty years later found me on the therapist’s couch, processing all of the insecurities and feelings of invisibility. It was in one of those sessions that I said out-loud something I’d always known in my gut: that even though I felt invisible, I wasn’t meant to be. I was meant to be seen. I was meant to do something important with my life. That “something” was destined to be on a large scale. There was a feeling of being preordained for great things, but not knowing what those “things” were.
This was not about having a big ego or grandiose sense of self. It was simply a quiet, internal knowing.
Fast forward another 13 or so years. This time I’m at the 2013 World Domination Summit (WDS), and I’m feeling that mixture of invisibility and wanting – desperately – to be seen.
You would think that by now, at a mature 41-years-old, I’d be over that stuff.
But I’ll be darned if my insecurities didn’t get triggered again, even though I was surrounded by some of the most positive, supportive people I’ve ever met.
I’ve had the good fortune in my professional life to work with people who know People… important, everybody-knows-your-name People. So I will occasionally have the opportunity to meet these People, and I almost always feel like a dork. It’s like my invisibility cloak envelopes me, and I open it long enough to say hi and mumble something stupid, then retreat back into the cloak again.
The World Domination Summit was one such meet-People opportunity. Saturday afternoon found me in the lobby of the performing arts center, chatting with a lovely new acquaintance who knew WDS founder Chris Guillebeau… who was sitting conveniently alone in a chair off to the side of the room (such an introvert!). I asked her to introduce me to Chris (just asking for the introduction stretched my comfort zone), which she graciously did. I met Chris, we chatted for a moment, and I felt like a dork. It had nothing to do with him; he’s friendly and approachable. It had everything to do with me and my feelings of self-worth.
But I did feel a sense of accomplishment; I’d followed through on something that felt important, in spite of my discomfort. It was a start.
On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Warner gave a talk about our “true mind” and our “counter mind.” He shared that the counter mind is the nay-sayer, the voice that asks “who are you to…” It crowds out the true mind, which is the voice of your highest self. We all have this kind of chatter. It can be as simple as “I can’t do it,” or as destructive as “I’m so stupid and lazy.” These voices might have been planted by others, but we absorb them and accept them as our personal truths.
Andrew introduced us to a short meditation exercise*. We were asked to conjure up a single true mind thought that could replace or respond to a counter mind thought. It’s probably no surprise, based on my experience the previous day, that the counter mind thought that surfaced was “I’m not worthy of anyone’s time or attention.”
My true mind thought chimed in almost immediately: “I am worthy of being seen and heard.”
Being seen and heard isn’t scary for me anymore (as Alicia Florrick says in the pilot episode of “The Good Wife,” it doesn’t get easier, you just get better). So the next growth edge is knowing, in my heart, that I’m worthy of someone else’s time (especially those that I see as “capital P” People).
The truth that I learned this past weekend was that we are all remarkable. We are all worthy. We were born to be seen and heard. We are remarkable because we exist. Tess Vigeland (so awesome) spoke to us about quitting her job, and the subsequent struggle to find her identity – and what makes her remarkable – apart from her work. Her admission that the process was “terrifying, awful, heartbreaking” brought tears to my eyes.
Take time today – right now – to acknowledge that you are remarkable. With or without a job, partner, hobby or any other external validation. You are worthy of being seen, heard and celebrated. It may not be on stage in front of thousands, or in a viral video that makes the rounds. It’s more likely going to be the warm hug of a friend who is happy to see you, or a private e-mail from someone who appreciates your work. Or, you’ll just have a calm, centered, deep inside energy that radiates remarkableness from your core.
Once you know your inherent worth, and feel it in your bones and in your heart, you’ll be able to move through the fear and doubts.
And no one will ever see you as anything but amazing.
You can also embrace what WDS attendee Amy Clover shared from the stage: “Self-doubt is bullshit.”
So the next time to you find yourself feeling insecure or invisible, or you finding yourself shrinking at the opportunity to meet someone you think of as “People” with a capital “P,” remember that you are People, too! You are worthy of being seen and heard.
YOU are worthy of being seen and heard.
* This image is of WDS attendees doing the meditation exercise. While seated, hover your hands over your thighs. Starting with your left pinkie finger, slowly lower your fingers one-by-one to your leg, pressing lightly. As you do this, repeat your true mind thought (“I am strong and powerful,” for instance) on each finger. You will have said it ten times by the end. Do this every day, and feel the true mind thought become more integrated into your psyche.
Great post, Beth…thanks as always for your honest sharing.
@Deborah Thanks, Deborah – I appreciate your kind words!
What a fantastic post Beth! I love your honesty and transparency. It reminds me I’m not alone in my fears and self-doubts. And, in many ways being aware of those feelings keeps us humble yet striving for better. You are so amazing and I am inspired to be amazing too.
ArdenClise You are definitely amazing, Arden! Yes, you named the reason why I thought this was important to share: to know that we’re not alone in our insecurities, fears and self-doubts. We often know it intellectually, but it’s a leap to *know* it emotionally and be able to move through it… at least for me, anyway! Thanks for commenting 🙂
Yup, I think there were a lot of us who move forward in fear, doubt and dorkiness…maybe we should create our own TrueMind meetup in #WDS2014 :o) Great post!
mindycrary Mindy, great idea! A TrueMind meetup, near the start of the event (on Friday, even!) so that we have a solid foundation to move forward through the weekend. Let’s bookmark the idea for #WDS2014 🙂
BethBuelow YES! Wow, I actually need to start a list now :o)
i picked your post to read from Chris’s list because of your title…i suffered from invisibility cloak syndrome too. it is easy to shrink into obscurity but like you, i constantly push myself to go out of my comfort zone, time and time again…it’s true it doesn’t seem to get better, but every once in awhile it is easier!!!
beautiful post by the way!!!
KathrynHansen Thanks for reading and commenting, Kathryn! Here’s to us pushing through our discomfort and increasing our ease 🙂
I’m reading The Icarus Deception right now (timely after #WDS2013) and it charges the age of industrialization as the cause for so much blending in.
We are taught to be invisible, to conform to standards (because that’s how you get good grades, right?) and when we’re grown up, it’s staggering when someone tells us to just stand up and be awesome.
Now, we remember what we have forgotten.
Thank you for *all* you are Beth. Great post!
Alisa Looney says
Lovely and thoughtful post, full of words of wisdom. Thank you!